Revision, POV, and a Writer’s Choices


With Lilly on school vacation, this has been a scaled-down writing week. One thing I did manage to do was print out a clean copy of Wolf Dream to begin a third round of revising. Normally by this time I’d be dotting my i’s and crossing my t’s, looking for grammatical or punctuation changes, and stylistic changes at the sentence level; the first and second rounds are for the Big Changes: switching things around, adding and deleting scenes and subplots, and generally getting it in the form I want.

Unfortunately, it still needs more. It’s only 169 pages, and 169 pages does not a novel make, especially in the supernatural genre. Publishers in that genre are usually looking for 150,000 to 200,000 words. I have roughly 47,000. Um, nope. That’s a novella. And that’s fine, if that’s what I was aiming to write. It’s not. I was hoping to write a novel.  So I need more.

I’m beginning to figure out what it still might need: more description of settings, further characterization of secondary characters, and an expansion and exploration of an important supernatural element. Simply put, I need to put more meat on the bones. I’m so used to writing short stories, wherein the mantra is cut, cut, cut, that it’s now hard for me to fatten up a story.

I didn’t have this problem with my (rough draft) dragon novel. That’s well over 300 pages, but then again, I had three viewpoint characters in third person point of view. Wolf Dream is told by one character in first person, which naturally limits the storytelling. But I feel first person is the best way to tell this particular story, and so I need to work with it and expand in other ways.

I’m reading a novel right now that switches back and forth, not only in time, but in point of view as well. The first person chapters tell what’s happening with the protagonist right now; the third person omniscient chapters tell what happened in the recent past to various characters, including the protagonist. It serves to get some backstory in, as well as anchor the protagonist in the milieu. It works for that story.

So simply because I chose first person for my story doesn’t mean I’m limited to it. But mixing up points of view is something I consider appropriate for more experienced writers; I still find it challenging to write in third person multiple.

All this is to say that writers have a multitude of choices they can make to tell their stories-the challenging part is to figure out what is right for our own. I’m still struggling with that, and the only way I’m going to figure it out is to try different things and see what works best. Sometimes that means spending a ton of time on one way, and if it doesn’t work, throw it out. But it’s the only way to learn.


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